Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Ribbons and Gaskets

There’s always one guest who gets a bit loud at a wedding. The weekend before last it was 270 KTA.

Following our deafening return from Penzance, I managed to create a temporary fix to muffle the blowing exhaust manifold. Glorious engineering it wasn’t – just a careful squirt of heat-resistant sealant to plug the gap – but it was just about good enough that we could keep our promise to friends Linda and Mark, who we met from their wedding on The Hoe in Plymouth.

With ribbons, bows, and another carefully made destination blind (in correct font, you’ll note – I’m sure they did), we set about two short tours of the City before duly delivering happy guests to their reception by the sea. The sound of laughter just about drowned out the diminished bark, and I think we got away with it.

But this weekend I did the decent thing.

Changing the manifold gaskets on a Bristol SU is a horrible job. I helped my Dad with one when I was 14, and I was then the only member of the team who could fit his hands through the gaps.

At 30, forget it. Every nut is a logistical struggle. Throw in some broken studs and the need to disconnect most of the throttle linkage, it’s a real delight; but I did it.

You’ll see the extent to which the old gasket had blown, hence the noise at Penzance.

With the manifold removed I took the opportunity to paint the chassis behind, as well as the engine-block and inlet manifold itself, before reassembly in record time (well, seven hours).

The bark has gone, at least when the coach isn’t under load. The real test will come with a trip up the road, but for reasons with which most of the UK will sympathise, I don’t think any of us fancied that this weekend…

Like the exhaust, we’ll find out when it gets a bit hotter.


  1. Your final photo is crying out for a caption, Dave.

    What sprung to my mind immediately was
    "And who gets the last laugh?".

    Alternatively, "Just you wait and see what else I've got up my sleeve, young fellow!".

    Happy days.

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